Updated on 09/17/2011 11:33AM

Diverse, talented field has everything but a favorite - yet


There is no vanilla in the prospective field for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, which includes punishing six-furlong specialist Shake You Down, powerful late-runner Aldebaran, admirably consistent Beau's Town, and brilliant-but-unseasoned Yankee Gentleman.

Perhaps the only thing the Sprint lacks is a solid favorite. That may change when the final two six-furlong preps are run this weekend in Kentucky and California. Beau's Town starts Friday in the Grade 3 Phoenix Breeders' Cup at Keeneland, and Yankee Gentleman runs Sunday in the Grade 1 Ancient Title Handicap at Santa Anita. A resounding victory could propel one of them to the role of BC Sprint favorite.

Otherwise, the Sprint chalk may be Shake You Down, whose trainer Scott Lake said this week: "I honestly believe he's he best sprinter in the country right now, he just punishes horses."

A $65,000 claim in March, Shake You Down will be supplemented for $90,000 to the Sprint. He has won three graded stakes at six furlongs since May, and earned the year's highest six-furlong Beyer Figures - back-to-back 118's in April; 121 in July.

Winner of a Sept. 11 allowance, Shake You Down will be a fresh horse when he ships to Santa Anita around Oct. 15.

"With sprinters, the big thing is holding their form," Lake said. "One week you've got these guys, then they go by the wayside, then it's a new group. The competition changes all the time."

The latest arrival to the Sprint division is Yankee Gentleman, whose last-start 117 Beyer Figure equals the highest earned this year in California by two runners he will face on Sunday, Avanzado and Captain Squire.

For Yankee Gentleman, the Ancient Title is crucial. With no graded-stakes points, he needs a top effort to be assured a berth in the Breeders' Cup. But he cannot leave it all on the track since he would wheel back 20 days later in the Sprint. Yankee Gentleman's rivals Sunday include graded stakes-winning sprinters in Avanzado, Captain Squire, Zavata, and Bluesthestandard.

Neither Captain Squire nor Avanzado is expected to run in the BC Sprint. Captain Squire needs recovery time between starts and Avanzado would have to be supplemented. Zavata and Bluesthestandard will run in the BC Sprint if they perform well Sunday. Bluesthestandard's owner Jeffrey Sengara is prepared to put up the $90,000 supplement.

On Friday at Keeneland, Beau's Town is favored to win the Phoenix. First or second in 13 of 14 lifetime, Beau's Town won the Grade 2 Bing Crosby Handicap in his last start, on July 26 at Del Mar.

Last weekend's Sprint prep - the Grade 1 Vosburgh run on Sept. 27 at Belmont Park - produced nothing positive. Runaway winner Ghostzapper will not run in the Sprint, according to his trainer, Bobby Frankel. Gygistar, the 8-5 favorite, finished fourth and was beaten nearly 10 lengths, but still plans on going to the Sprint. Late-runner Posse, third with some traffic trouble, also is on his way there.